Haitians embrace U.N. force

Post Reply

Haitians embrace U.N. force

Post by T-dodo » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:56 am

Posted on Fri, Jan. 28, 2005


Haitians embrace U.N. force

U.N. peacekeepers entered the volatile Bel Air slum in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, to remove trash and provide food and medical aid, a move the populace greeted with joy.


PORT-AU-PRINCE - The U.N. peacekeepers secured the slum block by block, house by house. Sharpshooters scanned alleys from high rooftops. Tractors filled ditches and cleared away burned-up car chassis that had been used as barricades to keep out authorities.

Until Thursday, this part of the Bel Air neighborhood near the presidential palace in downtown Port-au-Prince was a no-go zone -- a twisting warren of bloodshed dominated by armed gangs loyal to ousted President JeanBertrand Aristide.

But the 700 U.N. peacekeepers who rolled in before dawn were eager
ly greeted by residents happy to be freed -- at least for the day -- from the gang members who constantly terrorize them.

''It's good, it's good, it's good,'' said Jocelyn Timouche, 25, selling shoes on the sidewalk. Twenty feet away, a U.N. tractor scooped up mounds of sulfurous mud and trash, piled head-high. ``We couldn't even eat, it smelled so bad.''

More than anything, the warm welcome reflected some residents' growing dissatisfaction with the ''rats,'' as the young thugs are called.

''They come here with their earrings on and their pants sagging to the ground, making people give them money. Sometimes they make everybody run and then burn everything,'' Timouche said.

Around her, the streets were alive with gawkers and schoolchildren and merchants moving among the blue-helmeted U.N. troops patrolling and cleaning up the neighborhood. Some even joined in with brooms and shovels.


Julius Crespac, 72, sat on his porch admiring the r
are bit of peace and painting watercolors of beaches and thatched huts -- scenes markedly different from the urban dystopia his block had become in recent months.

''They are doing a beautiful job,'' he said of the peacekeepers. ``Two weeks ago, the rats were in the street. They were shooting. At nobody, just shooting.''

Not today. The fact that nobody opened fire on the peacekeepers was a welcome sign that they are gradually becoming accepted in even the most pro-Aristide communities. Supporters of Aristide, ousted 11 months ago, have often branded the U.N. troops an occupying force that should leave so that Aristide can return from exile in South Africa.

Led by the Brazilians, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti now has 6,003 soldiers and 1,400 civilian police officers, and has recently begun more ambitious operations in pro-Aristide holdouts such as Bel Air.

While the crowd was welcoming Thursday, the troops did not take any chances.

In the darkness before 6 a.m.
, squads of Brazilian soldiers rumbled into the neighborhood in light armored vehicles. They took all of the high rooftops that snipers had previously used to fire at them and police. Old machine gun shells littered one terrace.

With the high points secured, peacekeepers fanned out on the muddy streets, knocking on doors, searching for weapons, establishing a post at each corner.

The hillsides of Bel Air are scarier for troops than the violent parts of flat slums such as La Saline and Cité Soleil.


''Bel Air is very problematic,'' said Col. Carlos Barcellos. ``The streets are so windy and the buildings are five stories high.''

Smoke from trash fires cast an eerie pall on the area.

Once the six-block area was secure, the troops began setting up tents and unloading the tractors for the humanitarian part of the operation.

In the Place de Paix, a public square built by Aristide, U.N. physicians and dentists began treating residents. By 9 a.m., p
eople were lined up by the hundreds. Haiti has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world, and people in poor areas such as Bel Air rarely see doctors.

Troops distributed food to several schools and began scooping the mammoth piles of trash into dump trucks.

Lus Porcenar, 65, saw their efforts and put on her pink flip-flops and grabbed a straw broom. Not minding the black mud squeezing through her toes, she meticulously swept trash out of the gutter so the tractor could collect it.

''I feel like I should support them,'' she said. ``They are doing something good for us.''

She said it was the first day in months that she came out to sell her food in a sidewalk market. Without the peacekeepers, she is too afraid. She points to a fanny-pack containing her earnings. ''I would never be able to wear this without them,'' she said.[/quote]

Posts: 238
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2003 11:53 am

Post by Jonas » Wed Feb 09, 2005 4:43 am


They're still blaming Lavalas for the conditions in which the country find itself.

Is there cognitive dissonance here?
The Lavalas cadres are either on the run, in hiding or in jail.
The prisons regorge of Lavalas political prisoners.

And can somebody please explain to me how some Lavalas member woul dare ask anyone a contribution to the Party, in order to be given, of all things, a JOB?

As GOEBBELS used to say "The bigger the LIE..."



Post by T-dodo » Wed Feb 09, 2005 8:20 pm

[quote]We must have the active participation of the diaspora to make an effective change.

That's an unusual line, coming from someone living in Haiti!

Post Reply